Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

Who’s Getting Hurt by Flat Sales?

Data compiled by the Brewers Association show that the bigger craft breweries bore the brunt of last year’s slump.

Twenty-five of the top 50 craft breweries, as defined by the BA, didn’t grow in 2016; and more then one-third of BA-defined regional breweries had either flat or declining sales. The damage was heaviest at the top of the standings: four of the five biggest crafts—D.G. Yuengling & Sons, Boston Beer Company, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, and Gambrinus Company—suffered a sales decline. The top five’s only gainer was New Belgium Brewing Company.

According to the BA’s Bart Watson, the regionals are getting squeezed by both ends of the industry. Anheuser-Busch Companies, whose acquisition of craft brands has stirred up controversy, is snapping up retail space at the expense of the regionals. Meanwhile, many retailers are focused on getting the products of small local breweries on their shelves, again to the regionals’ detriment.

There were some bright spots, however. Regionals that upped production in 2016 include Bell’s Brewery, Firestone Walker Brewing Company, and Rheingeist Brewery. Several others that no longer meet the BA’s definition of “craft”, such as Founders Brewing Company and Lagunitas Brewing Company, also posted gains for the year.

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Beer…By the Numbers

  • Participants in the 2016 American Homebrewers Association Big Brew event: more than 12,000.
  • Establishments that hosted Big Brew events in 2016: 483.
  • Cities on this year’s Sierra Nevada “Beer Camp on Tour”: 8.
  • Breweries collaborating with Sierra Nevada on this year’s event: 12.
  • Beer’s share of Boston Beer Company’s beverage production in 2010: 88.9 percent.
  • Its share of Boston Beer Company’s beverage production in 2016: 57.2 percent.
  • Twelve-ounce beers in a “keg” (half-barrel) of beer: 165.
  • Growlers in a keg: 31.
  • Beer stores in Whiteclay, Nebraska (population 9) last year: 4.
  • Beer stores in Whiteclay today: 0. Their licenses were revoked by the state.
  • Cans of beer sold in Whiteclay last year: 3.5 million. Most are bought by Native Americans living on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which is dry.
  • Japan’s legal drinking age: 20.
  • Japanese brewing industry’s recommended minimum age for actors in beer commercials: 25.
  • Mexican beer’s share of the U.S. import beer market: 70 percent.
  • Mexican beers among the 7 top-selling brands in the U.S.: 2 (Corona Extra and Modelo Especial).
  • April 14 (Space Shuttle Edition)

    On this day in 1981, Space Shuttle Columbia completed its first test flight. The Space Shuttle program ended on July 21, 2011, when Atlantis completed the 135th and final flight. Atlantis is now on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in Cobb County, Georgia, where the Atlanta Braves’ new ballpark, SunTrust Park, will serve “Chopsecutioner”. It’s an India pale ale that has been aged on Mizuno baseball bats.

    Fox Sports Network mixes drinking and driving—sort of. It has compiled a gallery of NASCAR cars sponsored by beer companies over the years.

    Stoney beer, a historic name in western Pennsylvania, is making a comeback. One of the new company’s owners is the great-grandson of William Benjamin “Stoney” Jones, for whom the beer is named.

    Fans of the West Michigan Whitecaps in Grand Rapids voted “beer cheese poutine” their top ballpark snack. It features pork, beer cheese, and green onions over waffle fries.

    Somerville (Massachusetts) Brewing Company has taken breakfast beer to the next level with Saturday Morning Ale, a Belgian-Style ale iinfused with Cap’n Crunch cereal’s Crunch Berries.

    Prepare to be mesmerized! BusinessInsider.com has posted a time-lapse video of 12,400 gallons of Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot barleywine fermenting over a six-day period.

    Finally, Henrik Zetterberg of the Detroit Red Wings delivered a classy apology to an Ottawa Senators fan whose beer he spilled with his stick during pre-game warmups. Zetterberg went to the Wings’ bench, autographed a hockey stick, and presented it to the fan.

    A Clever, Beer-Themed April Fool’s Prank

    Today, CraftBeer.com reported that the heads of four craft-brewing pioneers–Kim Jordan (New Belgium), Ken Grossman (Sierra Nevada), Garrett Oliver (Brooklyn Brewery) and Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head)–will be chipped out of Half Dome, the 9,000-foot-tall granite formation in Yosemite National Park. It also reported that the landmark will be named “Craft Dome”.

    It gets better:

    [I]t all started with a call from Leslie Knope a few weeks ago. Grossman says the Pawnee, Indiana, native who rose to the top of the ranks of the National Park Service was looking for a way the government could give props to the rise of small and independent brewing in America.

    “She said she wanted to put a project together to honor the founding of craft brewing…Since California is the birthplace they wanted to do it at Half Dome.”

    There’s also a video from Sierra Nevada’s Facebook page in which the four honorees explain the Craft Dome plan.

    Well done, ladies and gentlemen. Well done.

    The Friday Mash (James Dean Edition)

    Sixty-one years ago today, James Dean was killed in a traffic crash in California. He was 24 years old. Dean became the first actor to earn posthumous Academy Award nominations for Best Actor, for playing Cal Trask in East of Eden and Jett Rink in Giant.

    And now…The Mash!

    We begin in Denver, where Brent Doeden aka “Captain Earthman” suffers from inoperable brain cancer. Doeden, who’s been vending beer at Colorado Rockies baseball games since the franchise’s inception, is a cult figure at Coors Field.

    Wil Fulton of Thrillist.com makes the case for why flip cup is a better drinking game than beer pong. One advantage: it’s easier to cheat, which—like in Monopoly—is an integral part of the game.

    The Michelada is one of Mexico’s popular new drinks. It consists of beer, lime juice, spices, sauces, and other ingredients in a salt-lined glass. It has some similarity to a margarita.

    To combat “flagship fatigue”, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company will release three new ales next year: Sidecar Orange Pale Ale, Tropical Torpedo, and Golden IPA.

    Los Angeles has light rail transportation, and you can spend a day pub-crawling along the Red Line, which runs from Union Station to North Hollywood.

    Candidates aren’t the only ones running negative ads this fall. Miller Lite responded to a Bud Light spot with this slogan: “Bud Light says raise one to right now so why not raise the right one?”

    Finally, ultra-runner Karl Meltzer set a new record for running the length of the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail: 44.9 days, 22 hours 38 minutes. His routine on the AT included ending the day with a couple of brews. Meltzer celebrated the end of his trek with a pepperoni pizza and—you guessed it—a beer.

    Wet Hop Beer Year-Round?

    Last fall, one of the local breweries released a fresh-hop ale. I had several growlers, and pronounced it the best beer the brewery has made in its ten-year history. Now I learned that fresh-hop ale might become available year-round.

    Ken Grossman, the founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, has dealt directly with hops farmers in Washington State. One of the farmers also grows mint, and he built a device that extracts oil from the mint leaves. Grossman asked the farmer whether that device works for hops oil as will. It does.

    Grossman asked the farmer friend to build him a similar device, and now he has a supply of fresh hops oil. That’s the good news.

    The better news is Sierra Nevada has made a new beer, Hop Hunter IPA, with the fresh hops oil. Aaron Goldfarb of Esquire magazine, who got to review the beer, gave it a rave review: “Like most wet hop beers, Hop Hunter is extraordinarily floral and aromatic, like sticking your nose into a freshly-picked plant or flower bouquet. It’s not really bitter-tasting either, certainly not as bitter as your typical IPAs.”

    Hop Hunter will be released on February 1. Mark your calendar.

    Beer…By the Numbers

  • Years since Westvleteren’s Sint Sixtus abbey started brewing beer: 136.
  • Number of monks currently at the abbey: 21.
  • Tickets distributed for this year’s Vermont Brewers Festival: 8,400 (total for three sessions).
  • The time it took for those tickets to sell out: 11 minutes.
  • Number of breweries in Portland, Oregon: 53.
  • Cities in the world with more breweries than Portland: 0.
  • Annual economic impact of Vermont’s craft brewing industry: $196 million.
  • Vermont’s national rank in craft brewing’s per-capita economic impact: 3rd (behind Oregon and Colorado).
  • Off-premise retail chain sales of shandies in 2013: $67 million.
  • Increase over the year before: 227 percent.
  • Summer Shandy’s share of Leinenkugel’s total sales: 50 percent.
  • Stops on the Sierra Nevada’s “Beer Camp Across America” festival circuit: 7.
  • Cost of a general-admission ticket to Beer Camp Across America: $65.
  • Beers poured at this year’s Burning Can canned-beer fest in Colorado: more than 150.
  • “Can-centric” breweries taking part in the festival: 55.
  • The Ultimate Beer Festival?

    Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is taking its Beer Camp on the road this summer. Called “Beer Camp Across America,” it will be a series of festivals to be held in seven cities, starting in Sierra Nevada’s hometown of Chico, California, and winding up at the brewery’s new plant in North Carolina. Sierra Nevada has invited every craft brewery in the country to pour at these events. It has also joined forces with other craft brewers to create a 12-pack of collaborative beers. These, too, will be available at the festivals.

    Proceeds from Beer Camp Across America will go to the California Craft Brewers Association.

    Top Craft Breweries of 2013

    The Brewers Association has released its annual list of the top 50 craft breweries. Boston Beer Company once again holds down the top spot, followed by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and New Belgium Brewing Company.

    Newcomers to the top ten include Duvel/Moortgat USA, the Belgian company that acquired Boulevard Brewing Company; and Brooklyn Brewing Company. They replace F.X. Matt Brewing Company and Harpoon Brewery, which rank 11th and 12th on the list.

    The Friday Mash (Happy New Year! Edition)

    It’s been a horrible winter in much of the country, but take heart: today is the first full day of spring. Today is also the first day of the astrological year, being the first full day under the sign of Aries. So break out the noisemakers and funny hats, and order yourself a beer.

    And now….The Mash!

    We begin in Bend, Oregon, which has 80,000 residents and 11 breweries. The breweries issue visitors a “passport” that they can get stamped as they sample their way through town.

    Esquire Network’s Brew Dogs are trying to brew the world’s most caloric beer: an imperial stout made with maple syrup and bacon, served with a scoop of beer ice cream and a sliver of bacon. It weighs in at over 525 calories.

    According to Outdoor Life magazine, empty glass beer bottles may help you survive in the wilderness. You can make sharp tools out of them, and even use them to start fires.

    The Session #86, moderated by “Beer Hobo” Heather Vandenengel, will focus on beer journalism. She invites you to discuss the role of beer writers and talk about your favorites.

    In Boise, fans filed suit against the city’s minor-league hockey team after seeing a YouTube video showing that a $7 large beer contained the same amount of beer as a $4 “small” beer.

    The environment is a high priority at Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s new North Carolina plant, whose interior decor will reflect the natural beauty of its surroundings.

    Finally, conservative commentator Phyllis Schlafly has asked federal trademark regulators to deny Schlafly beer a trademark because she doesn’t want her family associated with beer. Her nephew Tom’s Saint Louis Brewery has brewed Schlafly beer since 1989.

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